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      A STARTLING SIGHT

He arrived with a very shadowy breath,
Fasting,
With a dry craving,
Very sure and very free, unwearied,
Old now, with shiny
Wrinkles,
With his breathing so innocent,
His bold, secluded gaze.
He arrived, close-knit, well-sung
In his body, in his suit for no wedding,
With the radiance, so silent, of his pace.
He looked behind him
As if making cream before cheese,
With the sober and proud parchedness
Of his hands so soiled,
With his teeth cloudy,
Groping in the pollen of his mouth.

He arrived. I don't know his name,
But I'll always know it.
Dawn was starting to break with a cold silence,
The smell of resin and wine gone stale,
Amidst tavern and tumult.
And he said, "There's a sound
In the glass ..."
"What color?" I said. "You're lying."
He took out a dish and drew in the porcelain's
Belly,
With his seasoned fingernails,
His breath and the smoke from a cigarette,
A house,
A road made of quivering stone,
As children do.
"You see?

You hear the wind in the stone now?"
He blew on the drawing
And there was nothing there.
"Good-bye. I'm the King of Smoke."

autógrafo
Claudio Rodríguez
Translation by Louis Bourne


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